There’s a large “Fresher‘s” marquee on the lawn, and lots of “freshers” milling around carry leaflets and freebies. I remember the first year I started the PhD at Goldsmiths in 2009; it was weird coming back to university after a 20 year hiatus. I felt a huge feeling of hope seeing all these people devoting themselves to the life of the mind. There was, and still is, an atmosphere of relatively unselfconscious hedonism and sociability at Goldsmiths which possibly you don’t get at more “august” institutions like Oxbridge. People are not putting on “airs” here.
There was a meeting for new PhD Creative Writing students and we were introduced to the new Creative Writing tutors, Adam Mars-Jones and Naomi Wood. Adam told a funny story about how he received a grant to do a PhD from an institution situated in Honeypot Lane; he failed to complete the PhD on William Faulkner but wrote a lot of fiction instead. New students — and more seasoned ones such as myself — talked about their projects and research interests.
Professor Blake Morrison talked about the opportunities available for Creative Writing PhD on campus. The Writer’s Centre is hosting a number of readings which are not up on the website yet, but should be very soon.
The conversation turned to how Creative PhD students can have more of a collective voice and more chance to publish their own work through the aegis of the university. A few people said that it might be good to have a magazine or anthology of writing from the course. At Birkbeck, they run an “online magazine” called The Writer’s Hub. Check it out, it’s a really good forum for established writers on the course to publish their work. The Royal Holloway, Warwick, and UEA Creative Writing course publish anthologies, as does the MA in Creative Writing at Goldsmiths. And yet nothing for the PhD students? Why is this? Perhaps it’s because the institution feels that most writers on the course have established enough of a reputation to stand on their own two feet, and don’t need the “support” of an official publication. Or possibly it’s because that generally these anthologies don’t get much attention beyond the institution — although this was contradicted by a few people who said that agents take a keen interest in such anthologies. Or perhaps it’s because that no one has the time or money to collate/edit/design/publish such a thing.
All of these are valid reasons, and yet I got the sense from the new intake that there was a real energy for some kind of publication. Writers always need more publicity. They can never get enough. What do other people think? If you’re keen, what form should such a publication take? Who should edit/run it? If you’re not keen, then why not?